Reducing fly-tipping by 20 percent

#EverybodyThink – Barnsley Council’s fly-tipping campaign

This innovative campaign reduced fly-tipping by 20 percent and won two industry awards. Read on to find out more.


What was the problem?

There’s been a huge increase in fly-tipping recently and it costs local authorities £50 million per year in public money to clear. The annual cost of cleaning up 380 tonnes of fly-tipping, was over £280,000 in Barnsley alone. We needed to change mindsets if we were going to reduce the problem. We needed a new approach.

To understand the problem we researched fly-tipping data and created a picture of public and offender behaviour. We looked at hot spots, CCTV footage and the sizes and types of dumped loads to work out who the fly-tippers were. We worked out that a large proportion of waste was being fly-tipped by rogue traders – people claiming to be registered waste carriers.

These people were changing residents to collect their waste then fly-tipping it. Residents
had no idea that they’d contributed to the problem – they thought they were
disposing of their waste responsibly.

What did we do?

The facts above along with some social media listening suggested that we needed to do some myth-busting about waste disposal. So we targeted not fly tippers directly but residents. We told them when our recycling centres were open and let them know that we could collect their bulky waste. We highlighted the problem of illegal and unlicensed tippers.

How did we do it?

We kicked off the campaign with a bold publicity stunt outside Barnsley Town Hall, where a pile of fly-tipped rubbish appeared at dawn. Commuters arrived for college and work to see fridges, microwaves, and mattresses cordoned off with cones and police tape. Within minutes people were posting about it on social media. They couldn’t believe someone had actually got away with fly-tipping right outside the Town Hall. The same morning, Recycling and Waste World, a national specialist publication, posted the story on their website. The rubbish had really got people talking.


Later that day we revealed that the culprits were none other than ‘Dumpit and Scarper’ – a parody created by the council to represent fly-tippers across the borough. We launched a Facebook page to showcase the fictitious antics of Dumpit & Scarper.

The launch attracted lots of local and national media coverage. Journalists were tweeting live updates.

The social media campaign continued.

What were the results?

The print and online content on the launch day alone reached more than 109,000 people and had an equivalent advertising value of more than £4,500.

In the first three months the campaign achieved the following:


  • 200,000 people reached through traditional media
  • 114,000 people reached and 22,000 people engaged through Facebook
  • 40,000 people reached and 4,000 people engaged through Twitter


But the real results are in the behaviour change we’ve seen:

  • Reported fly-tipping incidents reduced by 20 percent
  • Enquiries about the council’s collection service increased by 141% between
  • Requests for waste collections increased by 41%.


The campaign has been a huge success, using innovative techniques to begin changing behaviour. It has won two awards and two commendations. We’ve been asked to share our techniques with the Cabinet Office to help other government organisations learn from our success.

If fly-tipping costs the council £280,000 per year, a sustained 10% reduction will save £28,000 each year.



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